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Men’s Soccer

Notre Dame has pieces, chemistry to go far

| Tuesday, September 12, 2017

If the Irish can continue to build off their early season momentum, they undoubtedly have the ability to go farther in the NCAA tournament than last year.

Irish senior midfielder Blake Townes dribbles around the defense during Notre Dame’s 2-1 double overtime victory over Cal Poly on Aug. 27 at Alumni Stadium.Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish senior midfielder Blake Townes dribbles around the defense during Notre Dame’s 2-1 double overtime victory over Cal Poly on Aug. 27 at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame’s record (4-0-0, 1-0-0 ACC) has not resulted from luck or weak competition, but from the roster’s depth, seen throughout the entire field and across the bench. From the defense all the way up to the forwards, the Irish have players who complement and build upon the play of one another throughout the game.

Let’s start with the back line. Graduate student goalkeeper Chris Hubbard has only let in two goals thus far, deflecting the few dangerous shots that have been on frame, especially in Notre Dame’s matches against Cal Poly in the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament and on the road against UConn. Graduate student and center back Matt Habrowski has proved his ability to diagnose the opposition’s game plan and effectively communicate his observations among his teammates as a tri-captain. With senior defender Patrick Berneski and Habrowski orchestrating the back line, the younger players have been performing well in the defensive half of the pitch under their leadership and have had few slip ups, resulting in a tight—knit defense that has only surrendered two goals. 

Moving into the midfield, seniors Blake Townes and Kyle Dedrick, and sophomores Jack Casey and Tommy McCabe have all distributed the ball well and found senior forwards Jon Gallagher and Jeff Farina up front, generating consistent scoring opportunities for the Irish. Ever since his return from an injury suffered last season at Louisville, Farina has been explosive in the opponent’s half, scoring four goals so far this season to help seal victories in three out of four games. Although Gallagher was scoreless for the first three games, the reigning ACC offensive player of the year tallied a hat trick against Boston College, marking his spot under Farina for most goals scored on the team thus far. Having scored seven of Notre Dame’s eight goals so far, Farina and Gallagher have continued to prove themselves a dynamic duo this 2017 season.

While the ACC remains the toughest conference for Division I men’s soccer, the Irish are off to a good start with their road win over Boston College. Every week more players continue to make the headlines and impact Notre Dame’s performance, pointing to a promising season ahead. Even though the Irish have the players to dominate the field, so does every other team in the ACC, which is why this season could be unpredictable and take some unfortunate dips like last season. With an unblemished 4-0 record, the Irish, looking to keep their momentum, will need to continue taking care of business at home while also being road warriors, especially during the remaining four road games against teams currently ranked in the top 15.

Although expectations can easily be proved wrong in a tough league, Notre Dame has the players to climb its way up the ranks and avoid falling into an end of the season slump if it hangs onto the momentum it’s built.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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